Single Strokes Around The Drums

pcjazzdrums

Junior Member
Hello everyone,

I was just wondering if anyone has tips on developing single stroke rolls, specifically for fills around the toms. I find that professionals have such clean, fast single strokes and was wondering how I should work towards that.

When I try to play fast single strokes around the toms I either lock up or hit the rims, and I've been working really hard at it without too much benefit. My single strokes are really the weakest part of my technique right now, as doubles and such are figured out.

Thanks to anyone who can help.
 

Fox622003

Gold Member
Well, most pros use their fingers, rather than their wrists and arms, for fast single strokes.


Fox.
 

maddrummr

Platinum Member
Perhaps you are working too hard. The trick to fast singles is being relaxed and comfortable. You have to work the technique slowly and correctly and then start bumping up the metronome.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Like every other aspect of your drumming, practice slowly and build up speed as you progress. The object is not to play fast but, but play clean. Don't sacrifice control in an effort for all out speed. The speed will come, but if you focus purely on getting faster and put no effort into your control then it will show in your playing. There's no short cuts or quick fix mate. Practice, practice and practice correctly, is the only way.

I'd also dispute just concentrating on your fingers too. A combination of all the muscle groups in your arms and hands will further your development, will give you greater control over your movements and thus enable you to play faster.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
Well, most pros use their fingers, rather than their wrists and arms, for fast single strokes.


Fox.

Not for getting them around the kit. It's important to develop the fingers using a pad or pillow, but moving the single strokes around different rebound surfaces requires control that comes from using the arms and wrists as well. This can only be developed by slow (very slow at first) and repetitive practice.
Try playing groups of 4 16th notes on each drum moving from snare to FT and back again. Observe how accurate your stick positioning is. Are you hitting the very centre of each drum? Are you hitting the rims? Are you accenting notes unintentionally? Are the stick heights all the same?
Try to keep an eye on all these issues on each repetition.
 

Max Mentzer

Junior Member
one thing i have done to get comfortable and fast around my set is play two or four hits as sixteenths on any drum or cymbal. varying it up helps a lot as in moving from a floor tom to your hi hats. start doing this slowly and you will start to notice things will be getting cleaned up then bring it up to tempo. i think virgil donati actually has a dvd out that focuses on moving around the kit.
 

MattJ

Member
I read an article written by Joe Morello in Modern Drummer magazine years ago, and to this day, it was the most useful thing I have ever done for my single stroke rolls. He said to do singles with as much range of motion as you can manage cleanly, and increase the speed as much as you can WITHOUT REDUCING RANGE OF MOTION.

It worked wonders for me. Good luck!
 

pcjazzdrums

Junior Member
Awesome, everyone, thanks for the answers. I agree with everything that has been said thus far.

I understand that efficiency and building from slow to fast are keys to this whole thing, and finger control is one of the things I've begun working on recently.

I already saw a few below (and I'll work on them), but as a follow-up: does anyone have specific exercises for developing faster single strokes? Perhaps some exercises specifically for building finger strength would be awesome. Any good places to look for this?

Thanks a lot.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Triplets with an accent on the first note are always good. I also like Pat Petrillo's 5-5-3 drill. Group your singles in two groups of five and then a group of three and repeat.

RLRLR LRLRL RLR, LRLRL RLRLR LRL.

I then extend them to 7-7-5 and 9-9-7. Fingers, wrists or a combination of both....play 'em anyway you like. It helps break up the monotony of RLRLRLR unto infinity.

There's heaps, but it's a start.
 

Drum-Head

Silver Member
Virgil Donati had a old VHS called Power Drumming with various - basic, yet hard to do with precision and execute cleanly - exercises around the kit.

Concerning singles here is what he did. Everything is played in 16th notes and the sound source is random (be it, ride, tom, snare anything) this is because the idea is to help on improvisation around the kit, as well as speed and endurance.

The click would start at approx. 60bpm and every 16 bars would shift up a notch and it go up to something like 200bpm (yes sir!)

1) Do the exercise once, right hand lead, four hits per sound source;
2) Do the same thing, left hand lead;
3) Do the exercise again right hand lead, two hits per sound source;
4) Same thing left handed.

He would start slow and flawlessly go up to speed and execute the singles around the kit (and this was 30 years ago!). Then he would to it with doubles and paradiddles. Everything is very basic.

The way to adapt this would be to the same thing, starting at 60bpm 16th notes and every few minutes push up the tempo, but doing this up to you're at about 90% of your max speed (you have to stay in control of the strokes!). As you get hold of the higher speeds, push up the tempo.

I have yet to see someone manage to pull the exercises of that video, they are so simple by concept but inhuman to pull off (you are supposed to play along with him). And look with what ease he moves around the kit:

Donati warming up

Anyway, maybe this could give you some ideas on how to develop single stokes around the kit : )

(...)


I should take my own advice and practice this...


*shamefully walks off*
 
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pcjazzdrums

Junior Member
Thanks to both of you guys for the exercises.

I will look into the Virgil Donati stuff- I've seen videos of him like the one you posted and he's absolutely ridiculous. I wish I could do that, for sure.

I'll keep looking at this and work hard at it. I'll let you guys know if I make some progress.

Thanks again, and keep drumming away.
 

Drum-Head

Silver Member
Oh! I forgot, I forgot!

Before doing those exercises he would use the same principle, but since you are playing one hand these are 8ths:

1) Right hand only, four hits per sound source;
2) Same thing left hand only;
3) Right hand only, two hits per sound source;
4) Same thing left hand only;
5) Right hand only, one hit per sound source;
6) Same thing, left hand only.

Again, make sure you still have control but going close to your limit and Make sure you are doing clean hits and that you are always hitting the drum head (no not me!!!) in it's center.

Sorry for forgetting this part...
 
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jivadayadasa

Senior Member
I will look into the Virgil Donati stuff- I've seen videos of him like the one you posted and he's absolutely ridiculous. I wish I could do that, for sure.
It seems like just checking out fast and smooth players doesn't exactly "teach" you how to do it so sorry of this is useless BUT I really like this guy's fluidity. I know it's not very didactic but it may serve to help you in some way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrl9ihGcHKg
 

pcjazzdrums

Junior Member
It seems like just checking out fast and smooth players doesn't exactly "teach" you how to do it so sorry of this is useless BUT I really like this guy's fluidity. I know it's not very didactic but it may serve to help you in some way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrl9ihGcHKg

Wow, thanks for sharing. That guy is, like you said, so fluid. I'll work on it and see if I can't gain some more fluidity.

Also, to Drum-head, thanks for the addition to the Virgil Donati stuff-- I'll work on it when I get to the kit later today.
 
C

Casper "DrPowerStroke" Paludan

Guest
To recap what a lot of people have said: just practicing slowly and moving in a precise way is very effective. And one way I learned this is by using the Joe Cusatis book, Rhythmic Patterns. It is a great book.

I was sitting one days just playing singles at medium tempo, one bar on the snare, one on the high tom. And suddenly I could feel the single strokes being continuous without being broken by the movement between the drums. That came from studying this book. And of course, you can do it yourself as well.

Important thing is that you do it :)

Casper
 

pcjazzdrums

Junior Member
Cool guys, maybe I'll check out those books.

On a somewhat unrelated but still useful topic... I was practicing single strokes and realized that my finger control in traditional grip is pretty poor.

I've got the thumb fulcrum down, and I can control relatively well (with decent speed) using just rotation of the thumb and arm. But when I try to use the index and middle finger above the stick, the stick tends to move back towards me rather than at the pad.

I've been watching Jojo's DVD for a little help on this but the section is very brief. I understand that I'm not getting the correct pull downwards, but I'm not sure how to practice this.

The single strokes are getting better already, so thanks to everyone.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
This is simply great advice:

He would start slow and flawlessly go up to speed and execute the singles around the kit (and this was 30 years ago!). Then he would to it with doubles and paradiddles. Everything is very basic.

The way to adapt this would be to the same thing, starting at 60bpm 16th notes and every few minutes push up the tempo, but doing this up to you're at about 90% of your max speed (you have to stay in control of the strokes!). As you get hold of the higher speeds, push up the tempo.
It bears repeating: everything is very basic. As Tommy Igoe might say, "simple things at a high level."

When we're moving around the kit, our speed is going to be determined by two things:

1) Our ability to play quickly on one surface

2) Our ability to move from drum to drum

Number 2 has little to do with wrists or fingers and everything to with our arms, shoulders and back/core muscles. What we're doing is training those muscle groups to move our hands to specific destinations around our drum kit. Like any other complex motion, start slow, be very accurate and try to minimise any unnecessary movement or strain. Move in straight lines from one destination to the next. Watch that you don't change your balance point on your feet or stool, as this can interfere with your pedal playing once you add your feet in to the mix.

Also, it can be very helpful to work one hand/arm at a time. Practice moving around the kit with just your RH, then your left. Studying the hands in isolation will help you study the motions specific to each limb so you can get any inefficient muck out of them. Try many patterns - i.e. not just descending from the snare to the floor tom, left-to-right around the kit. Go the opposite direction, practice moving between two drums at a time, make up more complex patterns, etc. Don't forget to add your cymbals into the mix.

Rod Morgenstein's excellent book Drum Set Warm-Ups is a great resource of exercises designed to help with this specific skill, if you want to go the book route.
 
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